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Posts from July 2009

Don't Take Everything To Heart

Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 "Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you have yourself cursed others"

People talk. It's not always good. Don't let it get you down. Sometimes it is good. Don't let it puff you up. We're probably better off just ignoring a lot of what we hear. Great chapter from Spurgeon's Lectures To My Students.

Three days with no internet access other that cell phone is about to drive me crazy. On the other hand it's been very stress free.


Surrender, originally uploaded by Calpastor.

I'm enjoying some time off this week. Reading, resting, and just enjoying the family. Here's a photo I took a week ago near American Canyon. This is an old McCormick-Deering tractor from somewhere between 1923-1947. The weeds have grown up around it almost like they are there to taunt the poor old equipment.

Time To Rest

The past few months have been incredible...

  • Started remodel project in chapel (It looks beautiful)
  • Mother-in-law spent week in hospital (we spent week on the highway)
  • Oldest daughter got married (Note to self: Send other daughters to RENO)
  • Middle daughter graduated (She is driving me nuts now with college stuff)
  • Youngest daughter continues to make messes around the house with help of new dog Molly
  • Several weeks of hospital visits and lots of prayer for Scott Hanes (Dude! No more problems!)
  • Started huge landscape project at Harvest (all our dudes got new nicknames during project)
  • Fourth of July with the Church
  • Youth Camp (proving to me I'm not "youth" anymore)
  • Vacation Bible School (busy but refreshing to see so many volunteers serving)
  • Surprise 75th Birthday Party for Mother-in-law

Monday is the start of a much anticipated vacation. I've got several good books picked and an old wooden deck scoped out along the Kaweah River to just lay back and relax.

But first... I'm preaching tomorrow at Harvest and I'm excited about the message. God's word is so amazing. See you all Sunday!

No Perfect Pastors ~ John Newton (Author of 'Amazing Grace')

In my imagination, I sometimes fancy I could [create] a perfect minister. I take the eloquence of ______, the knowledge of ______, the zeal of ______, and the pastoral meekness, tenderness, and piety of ______. Then, putting them all together into one man, I say to myself, "This would be a perfect minister."

Now there is One, who, if he chose to, could actually do this; but he never did it. He has seen fit to do otherwise, and to divide these gifts to every man severally as he will. (Richard Cecil, Memoirs of the Rev. John Newton, p. 107.)

"Only Crazy People"

It has not been unusual at our fellowship to have some pretty savory characters visit our services. We've had hallucinating drugs addicts, gun toting drug dealers, happy drunks, sad drunks, cross-dressers, adulterers, and more. I joked with my daughters once about a song that said...

Only crazy people fall in love with me
They come from all over to be with me
Bank robbers and killers drunks and drug dealers
Only crazy people fall in love with me

We changed the words up a little to say "Only crazy people come to church with me...". I'm alright with that though. If we are doing our job then we'll always have people who need to hear the Gospel in our services. We must never get so prideful and arrogant that we forget where we came from. Everyone of us came to Christ as sinners in need of a savior. He loved us unconditionally, forgave us, and saved us from our sins.

The Apostle Paul had written to the Church at Corinth and urged them to have no fellowship with sexually immoral people, greedy people, swindlers, and idolaters. The Church took that to mean that they were to avoid lost people completely. I'm afraid that the church still misses the point on this one. We are so separated from the people of the world that we can never reach them with the Gospel. Look at Paul's correction in 1 Corinthians...

1 Corinthians 5:9-13 "I wrote to you in my letter ​not to associate with sexually immoral people— ​not at all meaning ​the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, ​since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone ​who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging ​outsiders? ​Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges​ those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

Pretty strong words!

It's not the sin outside the church, in the world that we are to concern ourselves with. God will deal with those outside. It's the sin within the church that we should be concerned with. It's kind of crazy but it seems like we are quick to throw stones at the lost for their sins and yet we are overly accepting of those within the church who refuse to live godly lifestyles. We avoid the office Christmas party for fear our lost coworkers might get drunk, but we refuse to "not associate with anyone who bears the name of a brother" and yet is sexual immoral, greedy, idolatrous, a reviler (critical, verbally abusive), drunkard, or swindler.

Church discipline is difficult. It's painful. It's uncomfortable. Disciplining our children is all of that too, but we love our children enough to discipline them because we want the very best for them. The truth is, we are not enforcing some set of rules that we made up and therefore have the right to amend. We must honor and obey the Lord and His Word. Jesus paid a tremendous price to deliver us from our sins. His sacrifice for our sins was too great for us to view those sins as small and harmless. We have been washed, sanctified, and justified by Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

So this Sunday there will be people welcomed into our churches whose lives are still a mess and that's alright. Then there will be those who are welcomed into our churches who are expected to live lives of holiness. What's the difference? Jesus! Jesus blood! His name! If we claim the name of Christ we must live lives worthy of that name.

Ephesians 4:1 "Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God."

The Right Time To Serve The Lord

I ran across this quote today. I actually had a conversation with a member of our church who retired, moved away, and now sits and watches the weather change about this subject. He was critical of another one of our members who has retired and now spends his days working in and around the church. The fellow watching the weather change is miserable and doesn't even see it, while the one spending his retirement serving the Lord is as happy as I've ever seen him.

Mitch Anthony, author of The New Retirementality ~ "Disillusionment rates are sky-high for retirees. According to one survey, 41% say retirement was the most difficult adjustment of their life and most still struggle with the monotony, boredom, lack of purpose, and lack of stimulation that traditional retirement offers. There is a good reason these retirees are not happy — retirement is an unnatural idea. The concept runs contrary to the preservation of the human spirit."

I am blessed at Harvest Church to have some wonderful retired folks who are busy serving the Lord. These precious saints are responsible for a great deal of what happens around the campus. They are leaders, and are very effective at rallying our younger members to stay busy serving the Lord.

Sometimes we hear younger people talk about serving God later when they have more time, but the truth is many who have made that comment and have gone into retirement are still putting God off. The Baby Boom generation is moving swiftly to retirement age and provide the church with great potential in the years to come. 

The right time to serve the Lord is now. If you are young, harness the energy of your youth and invest it in the kingdom. If you are older, then use your time more wisely than ever before, make every moment of every day count.

Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 "Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain, in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed, and the doors on the street are shut—when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low— they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets— before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity.

The Reason For Suffering

2 Timothy 1:12 "which is why I suffer as I do." is a very interesting statement. We all suffer from time to time. Understanding why we are suffering is extremely valuable although sometimes difficult to determine.

Sometimes we suffer for doing the right thing.

Sometimes we suffer for doing the wrong thing.

Sometimes we suffer for doing nothing.

Regardless of why we suffer, we can learn something and benefit from the suffering.

Thank You Perry Noble!

6a00e54ed1be74883301156fb4dc7c970c-320wi One of the blogs that I read regularly is that of Perry Noble of Newspring Church. This dude is building a great church and I'm sure is extremely busy pastoring thousands but he takes the time to share some really good stuff online.

Here is a post from this week that I wish I had written. Good Stuff...

Leaders MUST be willing to make unpopular decisions at times…and when that happens you can bet on the fact that arrows are going to fly in your direction.  So…when the arrows fly…what are your options?

#1 - You Can Cry - the problem is–people can’t stand to hear other people cry!  Seriously…no one has ever been inspired to do anything great from the whining of another person.  Trust me…I’ve done my share of crying…and while it may bring some brief apathy and sympathy…it never accomplishes anything significant for the Kingdom!
#2 - You Can Die - I know people who have allowed the attacks of others to literally kill the joy inside of them.  If you are a leader then you are a fool if you actually think that everyone is always going to embrace you and/or your ideas.  Do not allow the voice of those who know you the least to shape you the most–to do so means certain death to the fire inside of your soul!
#3 - You Can Fry - I remember once several years ago having an incredibly difficult time with some things that others were saying about me…and it was stealing my joy.  I would read the blog site around 10 times a day and steaming over the comments…until…a mentor told me, “Perry, I call what you are doing ‘verbal pornography!’  Reading that site is not helping you…it is only damaging you!”  BAM!  I was allowing to voice of the enemy to focus all of my attention in the wrong place…thus ignoring my wife, my daughter and NewSpring Church.  Yes, we will get angry when attacked unjustly…but to dwell in and feed that anger does nothing but give the enemy a foothold into our lives.  (Ephesians 4:26-27)
#4 - You Can Lie - We can say things don’t hurt us and try to laugh it off…but reality is when we do that we are lying!  Attacks by the people in the cheap seats always sting…and so the best thing you can do is honestly admit to a group of people you trust how you honestly feel!  The sooner you admit the truth the more people will be able to help you walk through this.  (And trust me…God doesn’t intend for you to be on the battlefield alone!)
#5 - You Can Try - (BEST option!)  When knocked down we can get back up!  When attacked we can stay focused and keep doing what God has called us to do.  We are NOT called to quit–but rather KEEP trying!  If you are a leader then you cannot afford to waste time defending yourself and making sure the opinion polls are always in your favor.  We’ve GOT to be passionately obsessed with listening to God and then doing EXACTLY as He says…EVERY SINGLE DAY.  We can never allow the voice of the enemy take the calling that the MOST HIGH GOD put into our lives!  Like I said in the post, “Don’t Give Up,” what we do is SO worth it!  Keep trying your best to desperately run after Jesus and the vision HE gives…and don’t allow the snakes to scare you…Jesus CRUSHED the head of the serpent…and in HIM we can do the same!  WALK IN VICTORY!

Have a great week! 

"Must I Go, And Empty Handed?"

442378226_fa09564afe Charles Carroll Luther penned a beautiful hymn in 1877. I first heard the hymn while in high school and the words and tune have never left my heart. Luther had heard the story of a young man who was about to die. The young man had only been a Christian for a short while and was very sad because he had only served the Lord a short time. The young man said, "I am not afraid to die; Jesus saves me now. But must I go empty handed?". Luther then penned the words to this beautiful hymn.

The tune is also very beautiful. Charles Luther handed his lyrics to George C. Stebbins who did a wonderful job conveying the heart's cry of this lovely hymn. "Must I Go, And Empty Handed?"

“Must I go, and empty handed,”
Thus my dear Redeemer meet?
Not one day of service give Him,
Lay no trophy at His feet?


“Must I go, and empty handed?”
Must I meet my Savior so?
Not one soul with which to greet Him,
Must I empty handed go?

Not at death I shrink or falter,
For my Savior saves me now;
But to meet Him empty handed,
Thought of that now clouds my brow.


O the years in sinning wasted,
Could I but recall them now,
I would give them to my Savior,
To His will I’d gladly bow.


O ye saints, arouse, be earnest,
Up and work while yet ’tis day;
Ere the night of death o’ertake thee,
Strive for souls while still you may.


I worry that in our effort to save some of our traditions, we may very well meet the Savior with "not one soul with which to greet Him". Oh that God would give us wisdom to know what to preserve as necessary, and what to discard as distracting. The message of Jesus Christ and His salvation must never be second to anything. I will not be satisfied to one day meet the master having merely preserved what He gave me to work with. I want to be like the "good and faithful servant" who took what the Master gave him, invested wisely, and had a great return.